Critique my lodging choices

Jun 13th, 2004, 07:18 PM
  #1  
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Critique my lodging choices

Hello, I'm taking my family on a ten day trip through BC and the Canadian Rockies in August. Travelers include myself, my wife, and two daughters, ages 9 and 11. We want to do some light to moderate hiking, sightseeing, a glacier tour, and some shopping. We've got two nights at Pyramid Lake Resort in a Founders Cabin, three at Hidden Ridge Resort in a Deluxe 1 Bedroom Condo and four nights at the Ramada Inn in Penticton. We're also going to stay one night, probably in Kamloops, on the way from Bellingham, Wa to Jasper.

Any comments on my choice of accommodations? I'm paying about $170 CAD in Pyramid, $210 in Hidden Ridge and $140 in Penticton. The cabin at Pyramid Lake might be a little more rustic than we're looking for (the girls aren't into the rustic thing) but it's only for two nights so we'll live. I wanted to stay in town in Banff, but the kitchen at Hidden Ridge appeals to my thrifty side - I can save money on food. The place in Penticton is supposed to have a nice pool, and we plan to mainly soak up the sun there.

I'd love to hear any alternative recommendations to my choices. Anything you think might suit our tastes a little better while staying in the same price range. I was told that there were restaurants I could walk to from Hidden Ridge - anyone know if that's true?

Thanks!
fullsail is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 06:08 AM
  #2  
mms
 
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We stayed at the Ramada Inn in Penticton last summer on our way up to the Banff area. We had our kids with us, ages 9 and 12, as well. We can't stand the Ramandas here in the states, so were a little leery, but figured it was one night, how bad can it be? Well, we were really surprised...it was quite nice!!! The room itself was nice (new decor, etc), the bathroom quite large...but the best feature was the pool area. It is outside and has a bar/restaurant next to it. We had a table there that we ate dinner and were able to keep swimming. There was also a fitness yurt next to the pool so if you wanted to get a workout that way you could do it in a beautiful setting.

We enjoyed it so much the kids asked if we could stay there on the drive back home, but unfortunately we did not have time for another stop. Both my husband and I kept commenting that we couldn't believe this was a Ramada...just so different from the ones we have seen in the US.

We booked the room using Expedia and paid $99 US in July, just to give you an idea. So if your $140 is CAN then that is about the same.

Do you know where you want to hike yet? We did a few up in the Rockies that the kids really enjoyed. One was at Lake Louise...up to the Lkae Agnes Tea House, then over and up to the Big Beehive, then down and around to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, then back down to Lkae Louise. It is a gorgeous hike and at the top of the Big Beehive there is just amazing views! The tea houses are a nice break for the kids. Also, at the Johnston Canyon you can go to the lower and upper falls, which are pretty...but continue on past the crowds and head up to the Ink Pots. Very pretty!
mms is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 08:54 AM
  #3  
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Thanks for the info about the Ramada in Penticton. It looks nice on the website, but you never know for sure until you get there. It's good to know that it will live up to expectations.

I haven't thought too much about specific hikes yet, but the ones you've described sound very nice. We'll be looking for something in the range of one or two hours round trip. Are the hikes you described reasonably short and easy? The kids both do a lot of sports, so they're in shape, but their attention span for hiking is limited.
fullsail is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 09:21 AM
  #4  
 
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We have stayed at both Pyramid Lake Resort and at Hidden Ridge (although the Hidden Ridge experience was quite some time ago). Both places are OK. By that I mean that they are not spectacularly gorgeous or particularly interesting accommodation in terms of furnishings etc., but they are clean, comfortable and spacious.

I don't know whether Hidden Ridge has bee upgraded since we stayed there, but I looked their website, and would guess that they have. They are in a very nice location "above" Banff townsite (on Tunnel Mountain Road) with a pretty view to the west overlooking the town. I seem to remember that they had a fairly good kitchen in the one bedroom units.

Pyramid Lake Resort is in a lovely location by Pyramid Lake a little to the "north" of Jasper townsite (approximately a 10 minute drive on a narrow winding road through the woods). We have stayed there on a couple of occasions recently, and I find the accommodation - although clean and comfortable - very ordinary. Don't misunderstand me, I would stay there again with no hesitation, it's just that I like accommodation that isn't run-of-the mill and has unique furnishings, design etc.

While at Pyramid Lake Resort, we have seen small black bears and a moose right on the property!!! Your kids will love that (although the moose appeared very early in the morning - 5 a.m. - to graze on the grass around the resort). Of course there are no guarantees that you will see either of these wild animals there, but the chances are quite good.

Have fun - you will love the Rockies!!

Borealis is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 09:22 AM
  #5  
 
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Fullsail, the hikes that Mms mentioned are quite a bit longer than a couple of hours.

I think Maligne Canyon just outside of Jasper townsite would hold your kids' interest. A shorter version of Johnston Canyon (leaving out the extra hike to the Ink Pots) probably would appeal to them too. Johnston Canyon is about half way between Banff townsite and Lake Louise, on the Bow Valley Parkway (Route #1A). Your family could go as far as the Lower Falls or the prettier, but more distant, Upper Falls, depending on interest level.

When my kids were the ages that yours are now, they used to enjoy paddling a canoe at Moraine Lake or Lake Louise.

If your family likes horse back riding, Timberline Tours offers rides at Lake Louise:

http://www.banff.net/timberline/rates.htm#LAKE%20LOUISE
Judy_in_Calgary is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 10:51 AM
  #6  
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Borealis - Hidden Ridge has been partially remodeled recently. Some rooms are updated and some are not. My reservation is for an updated room, but I had to call back and ask for that change after I read some reviews on another site - we were originally confirmed in one of the older rooms but they never told me that...

Part of the vacation experience for my wife is to stay in a nice place. She and the kids will also want to hit the shops in town. I think she'll be fine with the Pyramid Lake cabin for a couple of days, but if both places are "ordinary", she may be a little disapointed. Any suggestions on an alternative place to stay that might be a little nicer? I don't want to break the bank, but would be willing to spend more if I was sure I was getting my money's worth. I had originally wanted to stay in town, but went with Hidden Ridge because of the kitchen. I know that "nice" and "money's worth" are pretty subjective, but I'm interested in any comments you have.

Judy - thanks for the hiking suggestions. I also checked out the Timberline Tours site - we might just give that a try.
fullsail is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 11:18 AM
  #7  
mms
 
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Yes, the hikes I mentioned are quite a bit longer...sorry. But you could do Lkae Agnes OR the Plain of Six Glaciers and those by themselves are not too long. The suggestion of Johnston Canyon is perfect...do both the lower and upper falls...doing both of those is very short and very easy...I wouldn't classify it as a hike at all...more of an attraction, if that makes sense. It is a really pretty spot though!

At the Ramada we had a room in the back, but which looked out over the pool. Definitely ask for that type of room.
mms is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 12:53 PM
  #8  
 
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Hello fullsail,

Although it's difficult to say because I don't know your terms of reference for "nice", I don't think that you will be disappointed with the places that you have picked in Banff and Jasper.

At Pyramid Lake Resort, even if you are staying in a cabin, you will be part of a larger complex that includes hotel/motel style rooms, a dining room, canoe rental shop etc. The experience will be fun I think, especially if you are travelling with children. And the location is superior to staying in town.

My favourite accommodation in Jasper is Becker's Chalets, but they fill up very quickly and even if you called today - mid-June - I am not sure whether you would be be able to get anything for August. Becker's has both "rustic" cabins as well as more modern condo-type units in fourplexes. The whole complex is a few miles south of Jasper townsite on a bend in the Athabasca River. The condo-type units have full kitchens and gas-burning fireplaces. The location is pretty, you can watch white-water rafts bobbing by in the river, I would be surprised if you didn't see deer or elk wandering around (in the morning or evening), and there is a gourmet dining room on site.

The nicest ( ="posh") place in Jasper is Jasper Park Lodge (JPL), but it costs big bucks (personally I think that they overcharge because they can; we have stayed there in the off-season when they have special deals, some more than 50% off their regular rates). JPL is in a very pleasant spot overlooking Lake Beauvert with Mount Edith Cavell visible in the distance. The accommodation is very comfy (down-filed duvets etc.), the service is outstanding, there are a variety of places to dine including a lounge overlooking the swimming pool, there's a golf course, easy trails to walk around the lake (which is small).

Hidden Ridge was very comfortable and spacious when we stayed there (years ago!!). Like you I prefer to have at least a small kitchen when we travel (especially for breakfast which I think is overpriced wherever you go - plus I like to eat in my nightie, impossible in a restaurant!!). I remember that the kitchen at Hidden Ridge was fairly large and well equipped, and not one of those tiny inconvenient "kitchenette" units that some places seem to squeeze into a corner just so they can say that they have a kitchen.

Banff has a lot more variety in terms of accommodation than Jasper. Brewster Mountain Lodge is right in the middle of Banff townsite, is spacious and fairly new, I really enjoyed our stay there two winters ago, but it doesn't have kitchens. I have never stayed at Buffalo Mountain Lodge, but have had dinner in their dining room, and have marked it as a place to stay for one of our future trips to the mountains. I think that some of their units have kitchenettes.

Your wife and daughters will love Banff for the shopping. While you are out and about and walking, be sure to stroll through the shops at Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise (in Lake Louise).
Jasper is small enough that you can easily walk the main street and browse through the shops in a couple of hours, so be sure to drive to JPL too, where there are a lot of shops in the main lodge.

Happy trails!!
Borealis is offline  
Jun 14th, 2004, 04:32 PM
  #9  
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Thanks for all the replies. I'm going to stay with my original choices.
fullsail is offline  

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